'Do Good with Wood' Award Winners
Minwax honors retired Ohio school superintendent and Chicago training organization
A retired school superintendent from Ohio and a Chicago woodworking training organization have won this year’s “Do Good with Wood” awards from Minwax, recognizing their efforts to improve their communities through woodworking.
J. Paul White, of South Webster, Ohio. won the $2,000 Individual Recognition Award this month; it’s the first award Minwax has made in this category. The Greater West Town Community Development Project of Chicago won a $5,000 cash-grant grand prize in the Community Craftsman Award Program in June.
First ever individual category
White won the individual award because of his volunteer work at Bloom-Vernon elementary school. He retired as superintendent of the Bloom-Vernon school district, but then returned to volunteer in the after-school enrichment program. He recruited others and together they helped students make rulers, birdhouses, swing seats, and other items while squeezing in lessons on math and reading to boost state achievement test scores.
Work ethics and wood skills
The Minwax award “reaffirms and recognizes our commitment to providing woodworking training to community residents who would otherwise not get it,” Bob Fittin, Greater West Town director of training, told FineWoodworking.com. Greater West Town works with people who have faced incarceration, homelessness, or layoffs and trains them for careers in architectural woodwork, custom furniture, musical instruments, wood parts manufacturing, and other fields.
Greater West Town students practice techniques during a lesson with expert Bruce Johnson. (Johnson is pictured, in the photo at the top of the page).
Greater West Town is trying to increase the number of company connections it has. The organization’s state and federal funding comes with strings attached: “We need to train the student and they need to go to work and succeed on the job before we’re reimbursed for our services,” Fittin said. “We are a nonprofit organization, so having that $5,000 is very important,” Fittin said. Even more valuable, he added, is “being able to make a contact with a new company and place a student there who will earn a salary and generate revenue.”
Fun finishing with Bruce Johnson
The Greater West Town award included shop time with TV personality and author Bruce Johnson. “For the students it was really the highlight of the award,” Fittin said. Johnson gave a finishing lesson (using Minwax products, naturally), one of the few such lessons students get in the 14-week program. Students got pointers on the importance of surface preparation and having a clean, dust-free workplace. They also got hands-on experience and tested different finishes and stains on a variety of woods, said instructor Doug Rappe.
Minwax is preparing for the 2007 awards. To learn more or nominate yourself or someone in your community, visit: http://www.minwax.com/company/cca/.
Photos courtesy of Minwax